Urban Beekeeping - Beehive on a 2nd story deck in the city?

I am ASSUMING the answer to my question will be a resounding NO… but wanted to ask.

I’m new to beekeeping and have just ordered a Flow Hive and have ordered Bees to be picked up in April.

I live in a major city on the 2nd floor of a 2 story Condo (only 2 units in the building). I have neighbors on all sides that are roughly 15-20 ft away. I have a 2nd story deck. The person who lives downstairs from me in my 2-story condo has her back-door directly below my deck. The deck is a typical wood construction with 0.5" gaps between the slats. Closest side-walk would be 20 ft away.

I would love to have my flow hive on that deck (no place to put it at ground level)… but its probably just too close to my neighbors… especially the downstairs neighbor. Do you guys agree? Does anyone have similar experiences?

Side Note: I checked, an beekeeping is completely legal in my area without restriction.

Here is a picture of the proposed layout…

Proposed Location would be to the Left side of the 2nd floor deck (as viewed in the photo). Notice the back door in the center below.

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Does your building have a flat roof by chance that you could put the hive up there?


Unfortunately… no. its either the 2nd floor deck or nowhere at all (at least at home).

I have a house block in suburbia, my flow is 15ft from sidewalk and 3 feet from my garbage bins that family access every day, and 6ft from neighbours fence, I have two golden retrievers and a garden bench 6ft from hive. No one has been stung accessing bins, no neighbour complaints dogs are happy and bees are well and truly spread out by the time (15ft) they get to side walk. sorry can not help you on the vertical access though.
good luck

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Thank you, that is helpful.

Yes… its the vertical distance to my neighbor’s back door that worries me. The top of her backdoor would only be 3-4 feet below my hive (and the deck has the typical 0.5" gaps). If the bees became angry, and worked their way downward… I worry that they would be in her face as she comes out the back door. I suppose I could put down down plywood to make the floor area of the hive solid – maybe that would prevent the bees from going at her back door. I just don’t have any experience with bees so as to know.

see added photo above.

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OK, so as they say, “this is complicated”. I am assuming you are in the US from the timing of your package order and the nature of your questions. However, your profile does not provide any further info on this, so my answers may not apply to your questions directly.

I live in San Diego, CA and the “incorporated” (urban would be a loose translation) area regulations are a lot more liberal than the “unincorporated” areas. You need to make sure that you know exactly which regulations affect you, as they are vastly different in San Diego county. That probably applies to other areas in the US too.

I am required to make a 6 ft high screen around any hive at ground level, or less than 8ft above ground. That wouldn’t apply to you. I have border distance requirements - it seems that you think they wouldn’t apply from your reading so far.

If there isn’t a shared pool (water) or some other attractant for the bees, you might be fine just going ahead. One “wasp” in the ointment for us is that if a genuinely allergic person has registered with the City, you can’t keep bees within 100 feet of their home/place of work/school etc. Same for Care Centers, Kindergartens, playgrounds etc. I would join a local club, and ask your local bee inspectors. Most of them are very reasonable and realistic. You might get more accurate answers than we can provide without knowing your location and local regulations. :blush:

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Hi, I also do that in my country, but I know there is some difference in term of culture or environment in my country compared to US, but this is based on my experiences, hopeful this will give some good suggestion to you. There were some issue of urban beekeeping for me

  1. Mosquito Fogging
    This things kill a lot of my bees, must make sure this never happens to your bees, especially when you traveling (Leaving your house). The problems of fogging is not just wherever they spray or not spray in the hive area, moreover they fogging anywhere, making bees foraging area full of toxic and kill every foraging bees. If the authority conduct fogging more than a day, you will see that devastating impact.

  2. Environment (Swimming Pool, Lamp, etc)
    This also become serious problem, but not instant kill like Fogging.
    Swimming Pool
    If you lived in Condo or area which provide swimming pool facility in it, the bees will be happy to “swim” with your neighbor. It will generate bees hatters crowds, they will try to kick your hives out of your place, simply because your hobbies annoying them.
    How to deal with it: Make sure you provide bees with water near the hives, as soon as your start your beekeeping
    If you keeps bees, you must completely aware with this “small” thing. Some bees always try to fly to the lamp, encircle, tired, and died, especially if you place them near the lamp. Slowly but sure, it will cut your forager bees, and weaker the hives.
    How to deal with it: Don’t place your hive in a direction facing the lamp, except you want to kill your bees. I always make sure that, never inspect the hive more than 4 pm (well some said 5 pm, but I see 4 pm is better for anticipate). Why this important? because whatever you inspect the hive, the bees will flying like crazy around you, if night come earlier, and someone turn on the lamp, the bees will fly to that light, and you will lose it. If able, try to use sensor lamp, this will increase your lamp efficiency, and also good for the bees :slight_smile:
    Peoples generally welcome bees, especially when you bring them to visit your hive, explain them that bees is different with wasp or hornet, and also provide some honey for them when you’re harvesting honey from the hive. As long as you able to keep your bees not stung your neighbors (especially their child), you’re good to go!

Good luck mate :wink:


Dawn. Thanks Again.

I’m in Medford MA (a densely populated suburb of Boston). There are no pools in the area. No reason to think that the bees would prefer anything on my neighbors porch. No schools or day care centers nearby.

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Hi Michang,

Thank you for the great info.

If you notice in the photo, the brown pole in the center of the photo has a street lamp at the top. There is another one at the front right corner of the house. Will those be a problem?

Neither I nor my downstairs neighbor keep an outside light on in that area.

So one last suggestion would be to ask your neighbors how they feel about it. This is a touchy subject, and we haven’t told our neighbors, but they haven’t complained. However, our neighbors rarely talk to us about anything.

If you like your neighbors, you might ask how they feel about bees, and offer them a free jar of honey when you have one to spare. At least that way, you would know where you stand. :wink: You could perhaps reassure them with comments about how you only want to keep peaceful, gentle bees, and you would listen to any concerns they may have. We won over a local community garden with this approach, and our second year of beekeeping there starts soon. :smile:

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No, it won’t.

There will be problems, if there are lamp near the hive (especially bellow 5m, in front of the hive), for examples above your hive, next to your hive, this will be a problem. After see your photo & your explanation, well that’s OK, you good to go! :slight_smile:

Anyway @Dawn_SD have more beekeeping experience than me, so it will be good to hear her opinions too, what do you think Dawn?

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We have a landscaping spotlight about 3 meters (10 feet) from our hive. It doesn’t point at the hive, but it is in front of it. It has caused zero problems so far. I think it really depends on your bees. You just have to try it and see. If it is a big problem, you can always remove the bulbs if it is landscaping.

For a street light, you might want another option, like moving to a Community garden nearby. :wink:

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Well- I am no expert- and obviously you would have to discuss the matter with the neighbors- but here in adelaide there is an observation beehive at our Museum on North Terrace it is situated inside the building where people can look into it- it is built into a window on the second floor with an entrance in the window. This window is situated on North Terrace- one of Adelaide’s main streets. Every day thousands of people walk right under that window (it’s about 12 feet from the ground) and I would venture that less than one in a thousand people notice the large volume of bees flying in and out right over their heads.

I knew the hive was there - but I never noticed the entrance until recently and only hen because I was looking for it. I have walked under it innumerable times. As far as I know the hive has been there for years and years- and I assume there has never been an issue- or else it wouldn’t be.

Having said all that: since I started keeping bees I have had a few fly into my house at night and buzz around. Even that is no real issue- they are not aggressive- just confused/exploring- who knows.

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Hey Steve,

Up front I’m for you having BEEs but are you married or plan to get married ? :wink::exclamation: Are you ready for a swarm or know how to make a split to avoid this issue (kind of). I got back into beekeeping after 55 years away. I bought 3 Nucs (not your situation) but these girls were stuffed n ready to Grow ! One of mine decided to really grow/expand Are you ready with a second setup ? Have you thot about your girls Swarming the first season (one of mine did such). I lost half of them to that natural bent bees seem to have. Trust me ! That’s a lot of bees buzzing around n I’m in a semi-urban neighborhood. Be ready ! :smiley:

Do you have a second deep ready n maybe an extra medium just incase ( as your bees might not take to the Flow right away)… Your up here in the Northern Hemisphere so will need the second box for winter good/stores. I love tossing the fly in the ointment… Just don’t want you to get in over your head, get steam rolled n loss the joy of beekeeping but all this is real n must be thought thru.

Dawn n others have n will give you wise advise n ideas to think thru as your starting to get your mind set. Don’t get the cart ahead of the horse . It’s time to join a bee club, get a class or so under your belt, n a must is a good mentor ! When crap hits the fan it’s a must to have someone close ! Glad i have the BEST.

All that said n your moving ahead (guessing that) as you have a Flow-Hive ordered n almost at your door-step. Bees (Nucs or Package) ordered ?! Right ? Try to :honeybee: prepared :exclamation:

Good luck n happy beekeeping bro !

I would say a large board ot tarp under the hive would be very important.

The bees empty debris and dead bees out onto the ground and as previously mentioned, drips of honey will happen.

Talking to your neighbour underneath is critical. You won’t be able to keep your hive that close to their door if they start complaining whether its legal or not.

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Yes. I agree. I think I’ve decided against the whole idea. Its just too close to my neighbors backdoor. My 2nd floor neighbor across the way likes to keep their screenless window open during the summer. The bees will likely go in there. Swarms would freak out everyone.

Just too many risks I suppose.

You might have a friend who has a suitable back yard that would be happy for you to site it there?

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@Stephen_Deese I’ve seen photos from Melbourne and Sydney in Australia where people have hives on a second or third story inner city apartment. If you can direct the flight path away from directly over the door that would help. Also, consider an obstruction in the flight path to force the bees to fly up. By the time they descend they’ll be away from the door and entry so less issues, if any.

Start by keeping really mean yellow jackets, then, when the neighbors complain, offer a compromise and switch to docile honey bees. j/k

My friend keeps them in a very close knit area like that without issue. He has 7 hives on his very small lot.


I would be very sad if you just gave up. Try talking to the neighbors. Lots of people are very aware of the threat to bees, and if you reassure them that you will listen if they have concerns, they might be very supportive. Especially if they have gardens or fruit trees, and you tell them that they can expect crop increases of 100-400% (otherwise the commercial fruit growers would never pay for pollination services!).

Bees are very rarely a nuisance, even with open windows. One of our hives is about 12 feet from our back door, which is frequently open (and unscreened) in the summer. We have never had a bee in the house from that. The entrance does face parallel to the house wall though, so the bees don’t have a reason to fly toward the house.

Please reconsider. :blush: